Province seeks bids for Royal B.C. Museum complex in Colwood at Royal Bay

The Royal B.C. Museum’s new collections and research centre in Colwood has taken a step forward — the province is seeking bidders to submit qualifications to design and build the facility, which will be on eight acres at Royal Bay.

Capital funding of $224 million has been approved for the 166,840-square-foot centre with indoor and outdoor learning areas.

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The government will select a company to take on the project next spring, followed by a ground-breaking that year.

The centre is expected to open in 2025.

The main museum and its public galleries will remain at 675 Belleville St. in downtown Victoria.

Colwood Coun. Stewart Parkinson called the project “incredibly exciting,” adding he’s thrilled that it will provide a new museum venue that’s more accessible to people on the West Shore.

“I would imagine that they’ll be funnelling school kids through this on a daily basis,” he said. “I think it’s amazing. I’m all over it.”

Visitors to the new site will be able to view artifacts and displays, and watch researchers at work in their labs. They will be able to speak with museum staff in the building and online through the on-site media centre.

The Transportation Investment Corporation, a Crown corporation, will spearhead the project for the province.

The deadline to respond to the request for qualifications, which were published Thursday, is Sept. 8.

A short list of qualified bidders will be drawn up.

Museum representatives have been looking for many years at ways to expand at the downtown site. Instead of remaining in Victoria, the decision was made to build a new centre in the growing West Shore region.

The facility will hold the museum’s collections, research departments and the provincial archives and provide more storage.

The public currently has access to less than one per cent of the seven million objects and the equivalent of 28 kilometres of archival records in the museum’s collections, a provincial statement said. “Improving public access and including more voices is imperative to the museum’s work,” it said.

The building will be of mass timber construction, in which the main load-bearing structures are made of solid or engineered wood. Lumber is laminated together to be used as structural components.

The existing building does not meet accessibility or seismic standards.

As a state-of-the-art facility, the new building will use environmental controls to better preserve and protect the collections, the statement said.

The province expects the project to create about 950 jobs for carpenters, construction workers, engineers and suppliers.

It will also deliver training and jobs for local First Nations. Indigenous partners will be part of the building project team and help design exhibits and develop programs, the province said.

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